Broken Link Building in 2024: How to Do it Right

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By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Strategy Overview: Identify and replace broken links on websites with your content, enhancing site navigation for owners.
Outreach Insights: Expect low reply rates; increase success with persistent, polite follow-ups.
Opportunity Search: Use tools like Semrush or budget alternatives to find broken links. Focus on lost backlinks of competitors with targeted filters.
Email Outreach: Keep emails short, with compelling subject lines. Offer clear replacements for broken links without sounding insincere.
Optimization Strategies: Test different email templates to find the most effective one. Use humor and offer multiple link options, subtly prioritizing your own.
Tactical Summary: Efficiently search for opportunities, craft effective outreach, and utilize creative methods to improve backlink acquisition chances.

Affiliate Disclosure: I’m partnered with Semrush, a product I like and use daily. If you need a top-notch SEO tool sign up for a Free 7-Day Trial through my link somewhere on this page and I’ll get a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

What is Broken Link Building?

Broken link building is a link building strategy where you find broken links on other websites and suggest your relevant content as a replacement.

By doing this, you’re providing value to the website owner by alerting them to a broken link and offering an easy solution.

Here’s what this process typically looks like and the realistic outcomes:

  • Discover a broken link that your content can replace.
  • Reach out to the website owner with information about the broken link and pitch your content.
  • In the vast majority of cases, you won’t get a reply.
  • When you do get a reply, often they’re aware you’re link building and may request payment.
  • In 2-5% of times, depending on how optimized your outreach email template is, you’ll receive a free backlink
  • Pro tip: if you don’t get an answer, politely follow up at least 3 times with a short message to dramatically increase your response rates.

This success rate is based on my early SEO career, when I used to sent thousands of emails as part of a broken link building campaign for a client in the health niche.

Best Way of Finding Broken Link Building Opportunities

For finding relevant broken link building opportunities, you’ll need a list of competitors or sites covering similar topics and a tool like Semrush.

We’ll search for Broken Pages that once linked to your competitor and then identify websites still linking to those pages to reach out to.

If this seems complex, don’t worry. I’ll guide you through a step-by-step process with examples.

Step 1: In Semrush, go to Domain Overview and enter a competitor’s name. Navigate to their Backlink Analytics and then the Backlinks tab.

Step 2: Adjust these settings to find the most relevant backlinks:

  • Lost Backlinks – we’re searching for broken pages that linked to your competitor.
  • Follow – focus on Dofollow links.
  • Links per referring domain set to 1 – we aim for a broad range of unique domains quickly.
  • Link Placement in Content – seek backlinks within the main content body.
  • Referring Page Platform set to Blog – if you’re a blog, look for other blogs.
  • Referring Language: Choose the language relevant to your content to avoid language barriers.

Step 3: Use Quick Search (CTRL+F) to find Broken Pages in the list. First, determine if you have relevant content as a substitute for a broken page by analyzing its URL slug.

If not, move to the next.

If yes, right-click > Open link in new tab to inspect.

If Semrush shows No Matching Results, quickly proceed to the next. Example:

Continue until you find a page with existing backlinks. Example:

In the Backlinks tab, if there’s a significant number of backlinks, apply Step 2’s filters.

If there are only a few, don’t waste time setting the filters and directly inspect the pages that look legit by clicking the icon to open them.

Copy the anchor text to easily locate and verify the broken link. Here’s our broken link:

Step 4: Find the site’s contact info and reach out, informing them of the broken link and offering your content as a replacement.

Repeat these steps to start building links to your website.

Pro Tip: Click here for a 7-Day Free Trial of Semrush and try out this method for free.

Finding Broken Link Building Opportunities on a Budget

While I prefer using Semrush, here’s a budget-friendly alternative using a free broken backlink checker.

This tool limits to 10 broken links per domain for free, specifically targeting links to ‘404 Not Found’ pages, which is exactly what we’re after.

Other free backlink checkers can identify every broken backlink on a site, but their scanning process is time-inefficient, taking minutes for each scan.

Ultimately, the choice of tool is yours, but for demonstration purposes, I’ll use the first one I mentioned.

For this method, compile a long list of relevant websites, and continually expand this list as you discover new sites.

Step 1: Enter a domain into the checker and click Check Broken Links.

The results will show up to 10 pages with broken links to ‘404 Not Found’ pages, including the URL, anchor text, and surrounding text for quick topic analysis to see if you have a relevant replacement.

Step 2: If you find a broken link that your content can replace, reach out to the website to inform them about the broken link and suggest your replacement.

And that’s it. By repeating these steps, you’ll uncover numerous broken link building opportunities.

Broken Link Building Email Outreach Template

Generally, you want your outreach emails to be short and to the point.

Here’s a good example:

Subject Line: Quick Question – always use this or similar subject lines to increase open rates.


Hello [Website Owner’s Name],

Did you know about this broken link on your site? Here’s the URL: [URL Here]

Anchor text is [Anchor text here].

You can seamlessly switch the broken page URL with one of my 100% relevant and working posts. Here it is: [Your URL Here]

Have a great day!

Best regards,

[Your name here]

If you overcomplicate these messages, you will hurt your chances of them being read in the first place.

And if you sound corny and disingenuous, your chances of getting links will fall dramatically.

Tips and Tricks to Increase Your Success Rate

Be analytical about your outreach efforts and track everything.

Discovering the ultimate outreach email can make your broken link building a smashing success.

A/B Test Variations

Always A/B test a few variations and do so over at least a hundred emails to decide which one’s better.

Feel free to challenge my advice and experiment with messages you believe might yield better results.

However, analyze the results and stick with the better performing template until you identify a single winner.

Embrace the Grift

There’s an endearing quality to embracing the grift; it commands respect.

Incorporate phrases like “Shameless plug,” “Help a brother/sister out,” or “Don’t mind my grift” into your templates to add humor and humanize the exchange.

Selfish Altruism

Offering alternatives can be surprisingly effective.

When suggesting articles as replacements, list two relevant URLs from the SERPs alongside your own, placing yours first and indicating it’s yours.

This tactic of “Selfish Altruism” earns you sympathy points and subconsciously sways the website owner to choose your URL.

Here’s what the template would look like with this tactic in mind:

Subject Line: Quick Question


Hello [Website Owner’s Name],

Did you know about this broken link on your site? Here’s the URL: [URL Here]

Anchor text is [Anchor text here].

Here are three 100% relevant posts from the SERPs you can use instead of the broken one:

[URL 1] – This one’s mine and I think it fits to your article like a glove

[URL 2]

[URL 3]

Hope you pick mine! Either way, have a great day!

Best regards,

[Your name here]